Volume One of this mini-series ended with our arrival at the March for Life speakers' platform. Volume Two gave some of the impressions of Ruth and Dick to various elements of our field trip. I'll begin today's entry with a few highlights of the presentations given prior to the huge crowd (225,000, maybe more) before we slowly made our way to Constitution Avenue and up to the Supreme Court.
* As always, the impassioned voice and enthusiastic example of 84-year old Nellie Gray inspired us all. She remains one of the most beloved of all our pro-life champions and her leadership of this awesome annual witness (an event she founded) has been outstanding. We owe her so much.
As many of you know, towards the conclusion of the platform activites, Nellie fell and required serious medical attention. But she's doing fine now and is even back to work. That's great news.
* President George W. Bush had met earlier that morning with several pro-life leaders in the White House and a portion of his remarks to them were taped and then played for the March for Life assembly. The President praised those "faces that shine with a love for life" and reminded us of the strong pro-life record of his administration. He was, as usual, calm and humble about this, even understating the new breakthroughs in adult stem cell research which so vindicated him against the fearsome assaults he has endured on that issue. President Bush also held out hope in winning the fight for life, an effort that involves "changing hearts, not just law." He referred to the biological facts regarding prenatal life, to our founding documents, to America's noble tradition of protecting the weak, and to the necessity of fighting on for "a cause rooted in human dignity." His finish brought one of the loudest cheers of the day -- "Take heart. Be strong. And go forth. May God bless you."
* Despite the cold, windy weather, there were many of the usual pro-life Congresspersons on the platform and their brief remarks were well spoken and well appreciated. Ron Paul from Texas was the first and I was impressed that he refrained from making a push for his presidential aspirations. Indeed, he didn't even mention or allude to it. A very class act. Instead, Paul reminded the Marchers that he was an OB-GYN who had delivered 4,000 babies in his career. And from the very beginning days of his training, he explained, "I was always taught my obligations to two patients, the mother and the baby!" A strict constitutionalist, Paul stressed that there is absolutely "nothing in the Constitution to justify abortion." He also made a nifty reference to his well-known libertarian streak (as well as the Declaration of Independence) when he forcefully stated, "You can't defend liberty without defending all life."
* Steve Chabot of Ohio, the primary sponsor of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, warned against how a Democrat President would dismantle every abortion limitation so far established and urged the Marchers to work hard to elect a President who will appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices. Todd Tiahrt from Kansas, Jean Schmidt from Ohio, and Roscoe Bartlett from Maryland were terrific as was Rick Renzi who spoke of coming to Washington for a March for Life 20 years ago and who decided to run for Congress more than any other reason to help restore the right to life in America.
* Dr. Paul Brown, the new Congressman from Georgia who won such an unexpected victory was especially dramatic...and overtly religious in his appeal. Mike Pence of Indiana emphasized the overdue need to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska thrilled we Nebraskans, of course, but just a few minutes later, Steve King of Iowa (Bev's Congressman) made sure we were all covered. And Melissa Hart from Pennsylvania was especially eloquent and engaging.
* The final speakers (political, anyhow) included Mike Ferguson of New Jersey, Todd Akin from Missouri, Chris Smith from New Jersey, and Senators Sam Brownback of Kansas and David Vitter of Louisiana. I really liked what Akin had to say, particularly his citing of four compelling evidences that "we are winning the consciences of Americans for life." They were 1) Conversion. Compare the number of pro-abortion folks who have changed their minds and become pro-life with the reverse. A dramatic divergence indeed. 2) The declining number of abortionists. If America really loved abortion and was proud of it, why would the stigma of being an abortionist be more shameful than ever? 3) The "window to the womb" technology has completely removed the "blob of cells" argument from the debate. We all now know the incredible, beautiful, irrefutable evidences of prenatal humanity. And 4) The youth of America is remarkably more pro-life than their parent's generation. The future is on the side of life.
There were some other speakers too who thrilled the crowd before the Sounds of Liberty choir sent us on our way. Those speakers included Rabbi Yehuda Levin (always a favorite with the crowd), Bobby Schindler who spoke movingly of his sister Terri Scihavo and of the need to fight for the lives of other vulnerable Americans, and a powerful sermon from the Rev. Luke J. Robinson of Quinn Chapel AME Church in Frederick, Maryland.
It was, as it always is, a fantastic and momentous "field trip" and I so urge you to consider joining us next year. You will not be sorry!
By the way, for an exquisite set of photographs of the March for Life 2008, check out Barbara Curtis' collection here. Really cool!